Summer often means an abundance of fresh air, a more relaxed routine that includes extra sleep for little ones and sunnier dispositions. In this seasonal utopia, it’s easy to think sickness is rare and that well child care can be put off. But when it comes to vaccines, it’s always important to make sure your child receives and stays current on every one of them.
Vaccines Protect Against Preventable Disease and Complications
Vaccinations remain one of the best ways for parents to protect their little ones from preventable disease. Without vaccines, your children are at risk for serious illness and, even worse, potential complications from vaccine-preventable diseases like paralysis or amputation of limbs, hearing loss, convulsions, brain damage and even death.
Viruses Are Not Globally Eradicated
It was vaccines that led to a dramatic decline of infectious diseases like smallpox and polio in the United States, but these diseases are still common in many areas of the world and continue to be spread by international travelers to unvaccinated children and adults.
Vaccination Protects Vulnerable Populations
Many people consider vaccination a personal choice, but if you don’t vaccinate yourself or your child, you’re putting the entire population at risk. Non-vaccinated children and adults can spread disease to babies that are too young to be vaccinated. These babies also have a higher risk of dying from the diseases. Transplant recipients, people with cancer and others that have weakened immune systems are also at higher risk and can contract life-threatening diseases from non-vaccinated people.
When Should Vaccinations Begin?
The American Academy of Pediatrics has a thorough list here of the vaccines every child needs as well as the risks for the unvaccinated. The AAP recommends that vaccinations begin when your child is two months old. Vaccinations are timed to work well with each stage of a child’s development.
Common Side Effects
Like most medical treatments, vaccines may have side effects. Common vaccine side effects include slight fever, rash or soreness at the site of injection, but they typically go away very quickly. Your pediatrician will make sure you know what to look for following every vaccine.
Cost of Vaccinations
Following the passage of the Affordable Care Act, coverage of childhood vaccines was included in most healthcare plans. There are also a variety of programs that provide vaccinations free of charge. Contact your local health department for information about low- or no-cost vaccinations for your child.
A study published in the Journal of Pediatrics found that vaccines save the lives of approximately 42,000 children and prevent 20 million cases of diseases every year in the United States.
If you have questions or concerns about childhood vaccines, it’s important to start the conversation with your pediatrician early—even before your child is born—to make the most informed choice to safeguard your child’s health and the health of other children and at-risk populations.